How to make Roasted Brown Chicken Stock (and young love in the summer)

dark stock

The first summer we were married, our situation wasn’t exactly ideal for two starry-eyed newlyweds doing life together. I finished late at night at a popular fine dining establishment where I worked the line and Danny rose early to meander through the Plateau to morning class at McGill. One of us was always tired when we greeted each other at the end of a day, and one of us frequently smelled of soup, but I’m not telling who.

Fed up of only seeing my husband from midnight to 6 AM, I petitioned my boss for day position as a prep cook. I may have stammered, blushing, through my reasoning, but he only twinkled his eyes at me and agreed, that just for the summer, I could work days, and he would find someone to cook the fish and the foie in my place at night.

Stepping down the ladder rung of the competitive kitchen hierarchy was not a move that gained me respect among my co-workers, but I always have (and continue to do so) put family first over ambition. There were stares and a few snickers when the new work schedule came out, but I was elated. A ‘normal’ 9-5 job in fine dining is almost unheard of and these new hours suited me to a T.

Eight blocks north of the kitchen, in our tiny apartment on St. Denis street, I went to sleep and woke up in Danny’s arms. We went out for coffee and fresh croissants in the mornings before parting ways, with lingering kisses, at the corner of Duluth and St. Denis.

Making stock was always the first order of the day, for it required long hours of simmering at an unhurried pace. I cranked the ovens to 400 degrees down the entire line and set to roasting bones for duck stock, veal stock, venison stock, and roasted guinea fowl stock, the essence of which I’m sharing today. I attacked a tray of carrots, onions and celery for my mirepoix, those flavoring vegetables essential for every stock, and gathered fresh parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns. By 10 AM, the massive sturdy pots would be set over burners with bones, mirepoix and cold water, and I would assess my prep list, left for me by the cooks the night before, and organize my day. [Read more…]

On batch cooking, plus a make-ahead & freeze cookbook giveaway

It’s a cozy Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting here watching the cold rain fall, thinking of all the times batch cooking has saved our family dinner time. Today, Danny is laid up with a nasty cold, and I’m juggling the busy household on my own, attempting to get ahead just a little bit for the upcoming week.

I’ve brought Danny a mug of hot ginger tea with honey, and am the afternoon has filled up with washing school uniforms, baking cookies for lunches, wrapping up homework, and making a M-F menu plan. Still, the boys want me to play a game of Sorry with them, the baby’s getting into everything, and oh!wouldyoulookatthetime? the Twitter chat I’m co-hosting is starting in 30 minutes.

I’m flying, and although I’m unsure if I’ll get half the things done I need to, I’m comforted with the fact that at least dinner is taken care of. Once again, batch cooking comes to the rescue.

We’re going to have a hot, balanced home cooked dinner, thanks to a hearty chicken & red lentil coconut curry I’m reheating. All that is required is for me to steam some broccoli and dinner is served. Maybe we’ll even taste-test the cookies for dessert.

No matter how busy the day gets, it’s really important to have us sit down as a family together for dinner; batch cooking is my time-saving tip to make that happen.

Today our Eat Well, Spend Less team of bloggers are talking about time-saving tricks in the kitchen – and highlighting Jessica Fisher’s new cookbook: Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, too! Read on for more batch cooking tips and a chance to win a copy of Jess’s book.

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How to Prevent a Domestic Disturbance

Written by Danny.

As the loving husband of your favorite Simple Bites Editor (Aimee), I’ve got the inside scoop on what really happens around here and today, I’m going to spill the beans and tell you one of our family secrets. We have a serious problem in our home, one that could very well lead to instability, sharp words, lost sleep and much, much worse.

Usually when there’s a problem in a relationship, both parties are partially responsible, but this time, I confidently accept no blame. It’s all squarely on Aimee’s shoulders.  You see, Aimee alone has a problem.  A serious one.

Her doctor has said that she needs to slow down and stay off her feet, but instead, she’s nesting. [Read more…]

How to Make Soup From Scratch

Do you love soup?  I sure do. It’s a delicious and simple meal that can be tailored to any season. It contains a wide range of flavors and highlights vegetables in season.

Most often, when people want to make soup, they go look for a recipe.  “Do you want chicken noodle…vegetable beef…or clam chowder?”  But you don’t really need a recipe to make a great soup.  Even less experienced cooks can learn how to make soup at home; it’s very simple.

The next time you want to make soup, try this method.  You’ll be able to use whatever you have on hand (no last-minute trips to the store for one ingredient!) and you just might love the result.

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7 Favorite Do-Ahead Dinners for Winter (recipe: Chocolate Chip Chili)

A little blogging conference called Blissdom is happening in a few weeks in Nashville and I’m skipping the country to attend. I’ll also be skipping out on four days of laundry, lunch-packing and cooking. Woo-hoo!

Hmm, the last time I traveled internationally on my own? It was over a decade ago and included sights such as the alluring Tuscan countryside, Thailand’s best beaches, and the most memorable spice market in Istanbul, Turkey. This trip isn’t going to be quite as exotic, and I’ll be inside a sprawling hotel most of the time, but it provides the opportunity to meet some very dear food blogging friends, not to mention, the whole Simple Living Media team. I’m so excited!

Freezer Cooking

To make up for this mom-bloggers’ absence, I’ve been slowly stocking the freezer with meals for Danny to heat and serve to the kids for the five dinners I’ll be gone. Sure he knows his way about the kitchen, but we’ve agreed it is best for him to focus on our little ones as much as possible. I’m also stashing a few extra meals, because I know I’m going to need a couple days when I get back to connect with Blissdom alumni on Twitter get back on my feet.

We’ve talked about warm weather batch cooking, practical do-ahead ideas to help jump start dinner, but I haven’t shared some of our cold weather favorites. Like most families, we enjoy classics such as lasagna, stew, and –my boys current favorite– spaghetti & meatballs, but they do tend to get rather old though, wouldn’t you agree?

Today I’m giving suggestions for recipes that are suitable for freezing, adapt well to big batches, and provide a fresh take on family favorites. Macaroni & Cheese with vitamin-A rich butternut squash? Slow-cooker chili with a handful of chocolate chips? Homemade chicken fingers kept moist with buttermilk? It all sounds so good, I almost wish I was staying home to dine with the family. Almost.

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